The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


April 11, 2014

Career Coach: Innovation is a necessity for a company to survive, thrive

Innovation is one of the most popular words being used in businesses today. As Alex Triantis, dean of the University of Maryland's Smith School of Business, remarked during his keynote at the school's recent annual summit, "Innovation is an essential building block for prosperity and survival."

While he pointed out the importance of innovation for a company's future, he also noted that turning new ideas into financial success is not easy. There are many impediments, such as corporate strategy, culture, organizational processes and misaligned incentives.

Indeed, John Kotter, a professor at Harvard Business School and well-known author on change, notes that at least 70 percent of new efforts fail.

So how can you improve the odds your innovation will be a success?

-- Have a clear role for senior leaders

For anything to be truly successful in a company, there must be top management support. Being able to get buy-in from the board and senior management is vital for the successful creation and delivery of innovative products and services. A recent Fortune magazine article on the "World's 50 Greatest Leaders" pointed to how Alan Mulally, as the chief executive of Ford Motor Co., saved the automaker by changing its "risk-averse, reality-denying, CYA-based culture."

Similarly, retired Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. noted that leaders have to be able to "see around corners" and see something significant about the future that others don't see. This is critical as environments are increasingly described as volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.

Joe Taylor, chief executive of Panasonic, describes innovation as being able to adapt to the markets needs and demands. The market has changed profoundly from the industrial revolution to now. "How quickly can you can adapt?" is how he defines innovation. Top leaders have to be champions of innovation by what they say and what they do.

Text Only
  • Is what my employer is doing legal? Yes or no

    Q: Welcome to the @Work Advice lightning round, answering one question: Is what my employer is doing legal? A yes answer means the described situation is generally legal. The reader can protest or refuse to participate, but not on legal grounds. A no answer means the situation seems to violate at least one labor law.

    August 1, 2014

  • Career Coach: Shaping your own future

    In our hyper-dynamic and complex world, it is easy to confuse means with ends, activity with progress, efficiency with effectiveness, and busyness with importance.

    August 1, 2014

  • A checklist for keeping you focused at work

    A quick check of Facebook and next thing you know, a half-hour’s passed. Start chatting with a co-worker and suddenly 20 minutes is gone and the report you were supposed to finish by lunch is late.


    July 31, 2014

  • Fancy management systems won’t fix bad managers

    In violation of my long-standing “only watch TV” rule, I read an article recently about how Zappos is adopting a management structure known as holacracy.

    July 30, 2014

  • Your Office Coach: Supervisor-employee boundaries must be honored

    QUESTION: Two weeks ago, my husband “Barry“ unexpectedly came home from work with a large flat-screen television. He explained that one of his employees gave it to him as repayment for a loan. I was shocked, because I had no idea that Barry was lending people money.

    July 29, 2014

  • Silly mistakes that sink job applicants

    Some employers won’t care - or won’t catch them - but mistakes in word usage can put your application in the reject pile.

    July 29, 2014

  • Watercooler: Raised to the roof

    Q: Over 15 years, I have worked my way up the corporate ladder with the same organization. I have been given a raise every year and excellent reviews, as well as several promotions.

    July 25, 2014

  • Career Coach Q&A: job search follow-up; introverts as leaders

    Starting a business:

    Q: I have a stable job that I don't hate, but I have an idea for starting my own business.

    July 25, 2014

  • How to become a leader

    QUESTION: I’ve just been promoted into a leadership role. I’m excited, but also kind of overwhelmed. What do I need to do to be good at my new job?

    July 24, 2014

  • Balancing Act: How much is your time worth? Consider outsourcing some tasks

    Todd Paton has a booming business getting customers noticed on the Web. One tool he uses is generating online press releases to build brand awareness and create links that will send traffic to a customer’s website. But Paton, owner of Paton Internet Marketing, acknowledges that writing the releases is not his strong suit. Rather than spend his time doing it, he hires out the task.

    July 23, 2014

Business Video